CSUN Shines Spotlight on Tomorrow’s Hollywood Innovators

The public can get a sneak peak at Hollywood’s next generation of movie makers on Wednesday, May 1, at California State University, Northridge’s 23rd annual “Senior Film Showcase” at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

The evening will also honor noted film director and CSUN alumnus Donald Petrie with a special tribute and on-screen retrospective. Actor Tim Russ will be the night’s host.

The showcase, which culminates years of study for the university’s senior-level film students, is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public. The screenings will take place in the Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre of the academy located at 5220 Lankershim Blvd. in North Hollywood.

Cinema and television arts professor Nate Thomas, head of CSUN’s film production option, said the films in the showcase represent the best of Cal State Northridge’s program.

“This year’s crop of films underscore the professional and creative talents of our film students,” Thomas said. “Our students come from mostly working-class backgrounds and have diverse stories to tell. In addition, as their films demonstrate, they have the skills to tell those stories effectively. As members of the entertainment industry, they will add new voices and perspective to those who already entertain and sometimes provoke us with their filmmaking.”

The following four student films are featured in the showcase:

• “Dead Air,’ directed by Katlin Majewski, is the story of a depressed, mute young man who captures his voice in bottles, and discovers that the only person who can hear him is his eclectic, deaf neighbor.”

• “Sonoma Valley Red,” directed by Katelyn Pigoni, takes place in 1927, a time when prohibition devastated California’s wine country and normally law-abiding wine makers were forced to become bootleggers in order to survive. The film is based on the true story of one Italian immigrant family that risked everything in order to keep its land and heritage.

• “Echoes,” directed by Moises Perez, explores questions about life, death and each person’s place in the universe through experimental filmmaking techniques.

• “Nong Dao,” directed by Tara Prades, is the story of a 10-year-old rose seller abandoned by her mother in Bangkok’s red light districts.

Donald Petrie

Donald Petrie

Thomas noted that many of the evening’s filmmakers benefited from mentoring from the showcase’s honoree, Petrie. Petrie, who graduated from CSUN in 1976 with a degree in theatre, is a member of the board of directors of the Directors Guild of America and is credited for providing Julie Roberts with her breakthrough role in “Mystic Pizza.” His other films include “Grumpy Old Men” with Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau and Ann-Margaret; “The Associate” with Whoopie Goldberg; “Miss Congeniality” with Sandra Bullock, Michael Caine and Benjamin Bratt; “How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days” with Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey; and “Welcome to Mooseport” with Ray Romano and Gene Hackman.

More importantly, Thomas said, the acclaimed director has repeatedly returned to his alma mater to give of his time and knowledge. During the 2009-2010 academic year, he was artist-in-resident in the film production program and continues to serve as the senior film project directing mentor.

“He has given so much himself to our students,” Thomas said. “He’s here at all hours of the day when he’s not working to talk to our students and mentor them. The least we can do to say ‘thank you’ is honor him at the showcase for all that he has done and continues to do.”

Hosting the evening will be Russ, known to television audiences around the world as Tuvok, the Vulcan character on “Star Trek: Voyager” and to teen audiences as Principal Franklin on the Nickelodeon comedy series “iCarly.” He was a regular on “Samantha Who?” starring Christina Applegate and Melissa McCarthy. His feature film credits include “Live Free or Die Hard,” “Rampart,” “Star Trek: Generations” and “Bird.”

CSUN officials that night will also pay special recognition to ARRI, the world’s largest manufacturer of motion picture cameras and other equipment, for its longtime support of the university’s film program.

For more information about the showcase, call CSUN’s Department of Cinema and Television Arts at (818) 677-3192.

Cal State Northridge’s Department of Cinema and Television Arts, housed in the Mike Curb College of Arts, Media, and Communication, has an international reputation for producing dedicated and talented entertainment industry professionals who recognize the value of hard work as they learn and continue to perfect their crafts. The department’s alumni work in all aspects of entertainment media, from writing, producing and directing to manning cameras and having the final say in what project is made.

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